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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK

World: Americas

Venezuela to probe Carlos capture

Carlos: Said to have received a letter from President Chavez

Venezuela has announced it is to investigate the capture of the country's most notorious criminal, Illich Ramireez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, who is serving a life sentence in France.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel said the circumstances in which Carlos the Jackal was arrested in Sudan and taken to France for trial in 1994 would be re-examined.

The family of the Venezuelan-born convicted terrorist says his capture and transfer were illegal.

After meeting with his father and brother, Mr Rangel said Venezuela is obliged by law to protect the human rights of any Venezuelan citizen imprisoned outside the country.

Controversial correspondence

Carlos has been at the centre of speculation since it emerged recently that he had received a letter from the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

Critics of the president say the letter amounted to open support of a convicted terrorist.

President Chavez addressed Carlos as "Dear compatriot" and, according to press reports, signed the letter "with profound faith in the cause and the mission, now and forever".

But President Chavez said he sent the letter as a mark of solidarity.

Carlos hsa been linked to the 1975 seizure of Opec ministers in Vienna, Austria, and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet to Uganda.

After three years in solitary confinement in a Paris jail, Carlos the Jackal has been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing two French secret agents and a Lebanese fellow revolutionary in 1975.

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